The sentiment surrounding Baker Mayfield’s sophomore season is overwhelmingly negative and for good reason. Mayfield regressed from his rookie performance in virtually every predictive statistical category and the eye-test, finishing 26th among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game. Fantasy players are justified in being skeptical of Mayfield in 2020, but there are reasons to expect a bounce back from last year’s frustration. Despite last season’s disappointments, Mayfield did excel in two areas: the play-action game and passing out of sets with multiple tight ends. Mayfield’s passer rating skyrocketed from 68.9 to 102.5 when passing out of play-action. He posted a similarly high passer rating (100.5) when passing out of 12 personnel. Fortunately for Mayfield, his proficiencies as a passer appear to mesh well with his new coaching staff. New Head Coach Kevin Stefanski coordinated a Vikings offense last season that finished top five in the league in both play-action rate and utilization of 12 personnel. It would be hard to fathom Mayfield not experiencing some positive regression with a coaching staff more suited to his strengths. Combine this regression with the abundance of talent surrounding him and there is reason to be optimistic Mayfield can finish as a solid QB2 this season.
As alluded to above, Mayfield’s 2019 performance contains an abundance of red flags. After throwing a rookie-record 27 touchdown passes against only 14 interceptions in 2018, Mayfield managed 22 touchdowns against 21 interceptions in 2019. His interception rate spiked from 2.9% to 3.9% while his touchdown rate dropped from 5.6% to 4.1%. Mayfield also took a hit in the efficiency department with his yards per attempt dropping from 7.7 to 7.2. Some of this negative regression can be explained by Freddie Kitchens’ discombobulated offensive philosophy and injuries to crucial targets such as Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, but Mayfield displayed poor decision-making, limited mobility, and inconsistent accuracy from the pocket throughout last season. Mayfield is still only 25 years old and should be given a long leash as a former first overall draft pick, but 2019 raised plenty of concerns about his ability to be a consistent fantasy producer and drafting him in 2020 is a bet that last year was his floor.
2020 Bottom Line
Mayfield presents too many red flags to be drafted as a fantasy starter in leagues that start only one quarterback. His performance through two seasons has been wildly inconsistent and there are always questions about how a young quarterback will work with a new coaching staff. However, he presents enough upside to be drafted as a QB2 and could surprise if there is immediate chemistry with Stefanski.